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Five more subpostmasters have IT system-related convictions overturned

Over 90 former subpostmasters have so far seen wrongful convictions overturned since it was proved that software errors were to blame for accounting shortfalls

Five more subpostmaster victims of the Post Office Horizon IT scandal have had wrongful criminal convictions overturned.

A total of 91 former subpostmasters and Post Office branch staff have now seen their appeals against convictions based on evidence from the Post Office’s Horizon system succeed, since the first successful appeals in December 2020.

These are victims of the Post Office Horizon scandal, which between 2000 and 2015 saw over 700 subpostmasters convicted of financial crimes based on evidence from the Horizon accounting and retail system used by Post Office branches, which was found in the High Court in 2019 to be error-prone.

There are potentially hundreds more that could challenge convictions.

Therese Gooding, who was sentenced to a community punishment at Liverpool Crown Court in 2001 relating to charges of theft and false accounting, had her wrongful conviction overturned at Southwark Crown Court.

Andrew Gilbertson, who was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, at Manchester Crown Court in 2002 in relation to an alleged theft of £24,870.71 from his branch accounts, also saw his conviction overturned.

The court also ruled that Elaine Hood’s conviction from over 20 years ago was wrongful in court. She was sentenced to community service and ordered to pay £950 towards prosecution costs at Derby Crown Court in 2003, relating to five charges of theft.

Amer Hussain, who had his conviction for theft quashed, was forced to carry out unpaid work and abide by a curfew for six months after a conviction for theft in 2005 and had to pay nearly £7,000 in compensation and £200 towards prosecution costs.

Meanwhile, Ian Davies, who in 2006 was fined £500 and ordered to pay over £1,000 in costs in relation to three charges of false accounting, also saw his conviction overturned.

Solicitor Neil Hudgell, of Hudgell Solicitors, said he hopes the latest successful appeals will encourage people to come forward.

“We’re pleased to see another five cases quashed by the courts today. The process continues, but one of the real challenges remains the low number of people who have come forward relative to the number of convictions,” he said.

“We are still talking below 150 from over 700 convictions. We still get a trickle of enquiries, but it is a trickle. I think the mention of the possibility of over half a million pounds in compensation alongside the quashing of their convictions, assuming the conviction is based on Horizon, has to serve as some added incentive.

Computer Weekly first reported on problems with the system in 2009, when it made public the stories of a group of subpostmasters (see timeline of articles below).

The Post Office always denied that Horizon could be to blame for the shortfalls, and subpostmasters and their families have had their lives turned upside down, with criminal prosecutions for hundreds and many more financially ruined.

Read all Computer Weekly articles about the scandal since 2009

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